A whole systems approach

Currently our work is separated out in to services and teams – although this gives us a practical organisational structure, it constrains the way we understand our system from the citizen’s perspective and can limit our ability to meet their needs.

What is a system?

A system is the structure, policies, processes and services which provide the support people need to live their lives well.

Why change the system?

Everyone comes to work to do the best they can for Devon citizens. If the current system makes that difficult, or if staff feel that they are using their skills and creativity to fight the systems to meet citizens’ needs, then we have a problem with our system; not our people. We need to make issues visible, and understand why the current systems works the way it does.

We believe that to make decisions which are based on knowledge and understanding we need to see how our whole system operates; and understand how an action taken in one part of the system can have consequences in others.

Why are we doing this?

An example

If our transport service makes a decision not to issue a bus pass, unknowingly this may prevent someone from getting to support appointments with our mental health service; missing appointments may mean that their problems get worse and they need more help and services in the long term.

We can only make these consequences visible by understanding our entire system.

Understanding the real problem to solve

A systems approach also allows us understand the citizen’s whole system – that is every organisation and service they come in to contact with to help them get their life back in balance.

Once we understand the real problem to solve, we can work with partners to decide who is best placed to help solve that problem. In some cases this may be helping the citizen to help themselves.